The City Magazine Since 1975

Play Houses, Real Lessons

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Garrett Academy of Technology high-schoolers built four playhouses, including the Fire House (with a loft and fireman’s pole) and the Beach House to auction off for charity. Photographs (2) by Dean Wilson

December 14, 2011

Play Houses, Real Lessons
Local students build small with big results for area nonprofits

written by Stratton Lawrence

When John Budgick’s students at Charleston County’s Garrett Academy of Technology signed up for his Building Construction class, they didn’t count on building four houses by the semester’s end. But that’s what happened after Carolina One real estate agent Dean Wilson visited to help them design a business plan for an Adirondack chair project they were working on.

“The class was also building a playhouse, and John told me that Kyle Lahm with the City of North Charleston had seen it and suggested they build several more to auction off for charity,” recalls Wilson. “The problem was, Garrett Academy didn’t have the money or materials to do so. My broker-in-charge, Louise Voelker, and I decided we’d get them what they needed.”

The pair and their Carolina One coworkers quickly arranged for Harbor Homes, Rex Thompson Homes, Capitol City Homes, and Charleston County School District to donate more than $6,000 in lumber and supplies. The class dove into the project, attracting other schoolmates in the process. Many of them worked over Thanksgiving break to complete four 50-square-foot playhouses: the Fire House, the Sheriff House, the Wacky House, and the Beach House (complete with solar-powered lighting and custom hand rails).

“The project covered 90 percent of the state competencies that we typically go over in a two-year period, from masonry to metal fabrication and carpentry,” says Budgick. “The students have been exposed to every aspect of the building process.”

Head over to the Felix C. Davis Community Center in Park Circle to view the results of their hard work. Each playhouse was dressed in holiday decorations by the City of North Charleston and is ready to be bid upon by the public, with proceeds going to the Lowcountry Food Bank, the Ronald McDonald House, the MUSC Children’s Hospital, and the Garrett Academy Family Christmas Fund. To place a bid, call Dean Wilson at (843) 345-2458 by midnight on December 23rd. “Buy It Now” prices ranging from $3,000 to $4,500 have also been set on each house based on the cost of the supplies.

To see additional photos of the playhouses, click here.

For more stories on people and organizations who are giving back in the Lowcountry, click here.